Today's Spirituality: Beliefs à la carte

What drives an individual to invent his spirituality rather than to conform to a traditional religion ?

Frédéric Lenoir : No doubt, to speak only of Westerners, a more or less great capacity to deal with existential loneliness. How do we know, in fact, in the face of the multiplicity of philosophical and religious models, what is right for oneself, what is true? Engaging in a personal spiritual journey is for some an exciting adventure, for others, a source of anxiety. The former will therefore be willing to live an "open religiosity", to explore various beliefs and practices by relying on their own judgment, the latter will need more to live a "closed religiosity", made of established certainties, validated norms by a community of belonging.

This grid of reading seems to me more relevant, to approach the psychology of the religious subject, than the traditional labels. There are today almost as many ways to be Jewish, Christian or Muslim as individuals, and there is probably more commonality between a moderate Christian and a Muslim than between a moderate Christian and a traditionalist Christian. .

One gets the impression that religious feeling is developing as the West is won by depression. Would you say that spirituality can be therapeutic?

I do believe that in the twentieth century, Westerners lost hope that the progress of science and reason could bring them happiness. There was Auschwitz, the atomic bomb, then the degradation of the planet, the specter of cloning ... Every day, they experience that social success or the accumulation of goods fail to bring them a deep and lasting satisfaction. No doubt the new religious quest expresses the need for a return to basics. Spirituality helps to find references and meaning in all this agitation. But at the same time, spiritual work is demanding. It exposes to doubt, it requires courage. Like the psychoanalytic path, it is strewn with pitfalls, moments of joy, but also of despair.

To which God do we rely?

Frédéric Lenoir : The representations of God have evolved considerably. In the figure of a God to whom one attributes human traits, one gradually takes the place of an impersonal divine, an energy, a presence. This divine is no longer conceived as being far from the world. On the contrary, we try to test it in itself, through its own creativity, its own breath, its own greatness of soul.We also seek to find it in its cosmic manifestations: caves, trees, stars ... After the materialistic ideologies have emptied the world of its magic, the new spiritualities intend to re-enchant it: to reconnect with invisible beings (spirits, angels, elves ...), with "the soul of the world", like animists or shamans. All in all, we leave the representation of a God to whom we attribute paternal qualities - justice, omniscience, omnipotence - for a more maternal representation of the divine, all of mercy and benevolence, in which we can take refuge or grow.

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